2/2/2 for 2022
The No-Resolution New Year’s Reboot
Give Up Two Things This Month, Add Two Things, & Keep Doing 2 Things
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions anymore. Too many years of making and breaking them has taught me that a hardline resolution just makes me feel like a failure a month or two into the new year.
Instead, I choose two things/habits I’ll give up for the month of January, two things/habits I’ll add to my life for the month, and two things I’ll keep doing. The “month of January” caveat is key. I make the changes for one month, just enough to reset. As for the two things I keep doing, they’ve already become ingrained habits, so they’re easy to follow all year.
I’ve been using the 2/2/2 approach for years to simplify and make small changes, but it feels especially apropos for 2022. This year, I’ll set the stopwatch for 2/02/2022, so I’ll actually get one extra day of good habits in. Here’s what I’m giving up, adding, and keeping. I encourage you to choose your own for a productive, simplified start to the year.
Giving Up: Alcohol
I enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. It’s a habit almost as ingrained as my morning coffee, a way of winding down just as the coffee is a way of winding up. Most nights when I sit down to dinner — or perhaps while I’m cooking — I pour a glass of wine. I often don’t finish the glass, and I rarely go back for a second, but having a glass in the evening has become a habit I really don’t think about at all. And when I’m at a social gathering with my always-the-designated-driver husband, I often have a few glasses of wine or champagne.
So for January, I’m giving up alcohol. I don’ think I’ll be jonesing for a glass of wine that often. What will be difficult is remembering not to reach for the bottle opener. I’ll reach for water instead. It will be interesting to see what effect a month without alcohol has on my sleep.
Caveat: I’ll make one exception. My wedding anniversary falls in January. To celebrate twenty-one years of marriage to the guy I spotted across a room in a classroom in Arkansas in the nineties, I’ll have a glass of champagne.
Giving Up: Shopping for Physical Goods
The first thing I give up each January is shopping for physical goods. In January, I use what I have. I don’t buy clothes, shoes, cosmetics, home items, or anything else that might pop into my head. First of all, I don’t need them. In my several decades of living I’ve acquired enough.
But giving up shopping in January is also liberating. It frees you from opening discount emails from retailers. It liberates you from looking for the best deals at post-Christmas sales. It gives you more time to be creative. It naturally eliminates the acquisition of new (perfectly useful) things that would take up space in your home.
Anyway, I got a new pair of pajamas and slippers for Christmas, a new planner at the end of November, a new jar of hot sauce in my stocking. We’re good.
Instead: Shop Your Closet
January is the month I remember I don’t need any more jeans, one more pen, or another charger. I don’t need any more serving ware or Scandinavian glasses, no matter how great the Finnstyle sale is. I don’t need more socks, a new scarf, picture frames, or blankets.
If I need something, I already have it, and it is somewhere in this house. We moved into this house in 2009, and though we did a major clean-out before moving to Paris four years ago, there are still boxes we haven’t fully unpacked from our move back home from Paris one year ago.
So in January, when I want something to wear, I shop my closet. I also shop every closet in the house, every drawer, every cabinet. If there’s still something I need, I shop the storage room downstairs, but let’s face it, there’s nothing I need in the storage room. If I needed it, it would have already migrated upstairs, into daily life.
If you are young or live in a small apartment or are a successful practitioner of minimalism, your closets and drawers will offer fewer surprises. But it’s almost certain you already have enough clothes, chargers, shoes, pens and silverware to get you through January.
Exceptions to the no-shopping rule
- I still buy groceries, food (including take-out), and medicine as needed, of course, although I try to use up things in the kitchen cabinets — the pickles and jam that got pushed to the back, the can of beans, the unopened bags of tortilla chips, the extra jars of pasta sauce.
- I also buy gifts when warranted. Also if my son needs something, I buy it, though I don’t actively shop for anything unless he has a specific need — like school supplies or a pair of running shoes if his wear out (he has a naturally minimalist sensibility and only likes to own one pair of shoes at a time).
- I’m a writer, so how does the no-shopping rule apply to books? In January, I read the unread books I already have. I do make one literary concession to the no-shopping rule, however. If a friend has a book come out, I buy it. Yes, a book is something I could buy in February to keep my January moratorium, but for an author, early sales are crucial, so buying the book when it comes out, and supporting one of our amazing local bookstores in the process, is just something I love to do. It’s cheating on the rule, for sure, but I’m okay with that.
Note: this is not a moratorium on spending. I still buy non-physical things to improve my life or my business, such as software and audiobooks. In January I usually enroll in a class. Classes I’ve taken in the past to kick off the year include screenwriting, marketing, psychology, media law, and, of course, one of those fitness bootcamps you regret the moment the coach screams, “just twenty more reps.” I haven’t yet decided what class I’ll take this year, but I’m making a change to the classes I teach. I normally start teaching my annual Novel in Nine course on January 1st, but this year I’ve moved it to February 1st. My 2022 Novel and Memoir Master Class has moved as well. Why? 2021 was hard. We all need a little time to adjust. In January, I have a book to finish. February 1st, I’ll be all set to help other writers finish theirs.
Adding: Quick Morning Journaling
Back in November, in an abundance of organizational optimism, I bought a new Leuchtturm bullet journal. I set it up with monthly and daily goals and notes, yet never quite got around to using it. But I began this morning, January 1st, by listing a couple of goals and events for the month and jotting my notes for today.
I love the simplicity and intuitiveness of system: you use a bullet for anything you need to do, a dash for notes (basically any non-task item that you don’t want to forget), and a circle for events.
I love my Leuchtturm — it just makes everything feel more elegant — but you can bullet journal with any clean, unused notebook you have lying around the house.
Adding: 500 Words a Day (most days)
500 words a day, five days a week, adds up to 2,500 words per week, which adds up to about 10,000 words per month, which adds up to about 80,000 words in eight months, which is a good length for a novel.
My goal is always 500 words a day most days, but as the year wanes, it slips. So I’m not making the promise for the year. I’m making it only for January — 500 words per day — with the hopes that laying the habit down in January will make me more likely to continue it on into February and beyond.
Keeping On Keeping On
This one is simple. I’ve selected two things that bring me joy and health, two things that are already habits. I’ll keep doing these two things.
Exercise most days of the week
The purpose of daily exercise is obvious, and I definitely feel the effects when I don’t. Often I do half an hour to 45 minutes on the treadmill (a gift to myself last December before the January no-shopping ban kicked in), if it’s nice out I’ll go for a walk, or maybe I’ll spend 5 minutes with a kettlebell and 15 minutes of pilates and 10 minutes on the cheap rowing machine we bought during lockdown in Paris. I never go to the gym. Your legs and some free weights will do. Keeping it simple makes it simple to keep doing it.
Make the bed every morning
Making the bed sets the right tone for the day. It takes two to five minutes, depending on how many pillows you have (we just have the pillows we sleep on), and how tight you like your corners (I’m not too strict about the corners).
So that’s it. Today, choose two things you want to add for January, two things you want to give up, and two things you want to keep doing. Keep doing 2/2/2 until 2/2/2022.
Michelle Richmond is the New York Times bestselling author of THE WONDER TEST, THE MARRIAGE PACT, and six other novels and story collections. She helps writers complete their first novel in Novel in 9 and the accelerated program Novel in 5. She is the founder of Fiction Master Class.